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Digital Trends Survey 2011

Digital Trends Survey 2011

Financial journalists outline new PR rules of engagement

Financial journalists want PRs to adopt more informal communications on social networks and leave the serious sales pitch to the traditional PR tools of email and telephone, new research from Four Broadgate’s 2011 Digital Trends Survey, reveals.

Four Broadgate’s third annual survey, the landmark opinion survey among 100 UK financial journalists on their attitudes to digital and social media, said 82% of journalists felt having informal conversations was the best way companies should be using social media with around half saying PRs should also be monitoring social media to answer their requests.

Thirty five per cent said they were happy to be pitched through social media but not one said it was their first choice. When asked if journalists had a preference for being pitched to over social media rather than the telephone and email, 81% of journalists preferred to be pitched to by PRs over email with almost two in ten journalists preferred telephone – but not one said they would prefer social media over such methods.

The survey confirms the growing popularity of Twitter among journalists, with usage rising from one third to half of all journalists using this tool, confirming the importance of this channel for media relations in the sector. Fifty six per cent of journalists said they listened in on conversations on Twitter, with researching stories and chatting with friends and colleagues following as the second and third most popular uses. However, while audience feedback is important, only 2% said online super influencers impacted on who was quoted in their articles, suggesting you cannot completely rely on social media to raise your profile.

The number of hits a story receives has become the most popular measure of journalist success, followed by how an article is shared online. However, the attitude to search engine optimisation (SEO) remains largely unchanged to what it was a year ago, with just over half (55% compared to 56% in 2010) of all respondents optimising their stories for search engines.

Community management has become an essential skill for journalists with a total of 81%of respondents, including editors, reporters and columnists engaging with their online audiences and managing these communities within their own websites and other external channels and forums.

The survey also shows that company websites are still the primary source of information when researching stories, with an overwhelming 97% of respondents naming them as the preferred source. More progress has been made in improving financial services company websites, 62% of respondents said that they could find what they were looking for, more effectively compared with 50% last year.

Sarah Evans-Toyne, Digital Strategist at Four Broadgate, says: “Our survey confirms that social media channels are good ways for PRs to ‘bond’ and chat with journalists, but when it comes to the PR pitch, financial journalists prefer old fashioned channels. The financial services sector has traditionally been way behind tech and consumer colleagues when it comes to the use of digital communications, but companies need to respond to this emerging enthusiasm by adapting their approach to engagement and understanding the new rules in a multi-channel environment.

“Having virtual friends is an increasingly important PR and networking tool, but in most cases these interactions supplement existing offline relationships – offline PR relationships are still absolutely vital.”


For a full copy of the report, including a sample of respondents’ comments, please email

To see Mark Knight’s interview on the Digital Trends Survey for PR Week follow the link

For further information, please contact: Mark Knight / Sarah Evans-Toyne / Tania Vie Riba on 020 7726 6111

Notes to editors:

1. The 2011 Digital Trends Survey is the third survey carried out by Four Broadgate to gauge the perceptions of digital media amongst the UK’s top financial journalists. The data was collated via a questionnaire emailed to a database of financial journalists across trade, consumer, online and broadcast titles. A total of 100 financial journalists completed the questionnaire between March 10 and April 7, 2011.

2. More than half of respondents classed themselves as journalists or writers; with 46% this year stating they have the title of Editor/Editorial. About 10% classed themselves as a correspondent/columnist.

3.The majority of respondents work on a trade newspaper or magazine (57%); 27% worked for an online service, 12% work for a daily newspaper and 11% work at a weekly newspaper, providing a good sample of different types of journalists across the financial services media.

4. Of the respondents in this year’s survey, 57% described themselves as City/business journalists, 37% consumer affairs/personal finance and 6% management/industrial relations/HR journalists. There was a slight increase in consumer affairs/personal finance journalist participating in this year’s survey, up by 7%.


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